True Health Diagnostics Beats Cleveland HeartLab Patent Lawsuit

True Health has moved into the HDL building, which also secured VCU as a tenant. Photo by Katie Demeria.

HDL’s former downtown headquarters, which True Health now occupies. Photo by Katie Demeria.

Richmond’s newest major healthcare player has shed some more legal baggage.

An Ohio judge this week dismissed a three-month-old lawsuit against Texas-based True Health Diagnostics, which entered the Richmond market last year by acquiring Health Diagnostic Laboratory.

Filed in November, the case centered on blood tests patented by plaintiff Cleveland HeartLab, which had previously allowed HDL to use the tests through a contract. That contract was not carried over to True Health as part of its purchase of HDL last September, but Cleveland HeartLab contended that True Health continued to use those tests, infringing upon the Ohio firm’s patents for myeloperoxidase, or MPO, tests.

In its defense, True Health argued that many of Cleveland HeartLab’s tests were not patentable and were an attempt to patent a law of nature. MPO tests analyze inflammation of blood vessels. The Ohio judge agreed and filed an order to approve the motion to dismiss on Feb. 23.

“Even though plaintiff may have been the first to ‘see’ MPO by looking at the amount of MPO molecules and/or enzymatic activity level, these values are naturally occurring and their discovery does not render the patents eligible,” Judge Patricia Gaughan stated in her order.

For True Health, both pieces active litigation brought against it since purchasing HDL are now settled. It reached an agreement earlier this month with the bankrupt shell of HDL to resolve a dispute over bill collection.

Chris Grottenthaler

 Chris Grottenthaler

True Health CEO Chris Grottenthaler said in an interview Thursday that Cleveland HeartLab could appeal the decision, but added, “We’re not losing sleep over that, really.”

“I think the lawsuit was a little bit reactive,” he said. “A lot of people fire off first and think later.”

Grottenhaler said that True Health doesn’t see itself as a cardiovascular lab, but a disease management company that happens to do diagnostics.

“This lawsuit is really just a continuation of old behavior in the industry, and we’re not interested in perpetuating (that),” he said.

“In my opinion, the activity of HDL left a little bit of a cloud over the industry, and we’re here to reposition it and really look at the good things that we’ve found.”

Cleveland Heartlab issued a statement late Thursday evening, saying it does intend to appeal the decision.

“Cleveland HeartLab and Cleveland Clinic believe the accurate and precise measurement of MPO is vital to those at risk for cardiovascular disease,” the company said in the statement. “The CHL MPO test is recognized as the global gold standard for MPO testing because of our unwavering commitment to high quality and accurate testing.  This ruling only impacts a portion of our MPO patent portfolio, which remains strong and continues to grow.”

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